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When you exhaust yourself exploring the great outdoors on a camping trip, you want to be sure you can get the restorative sleep you need to continue the adventure the next day.

“How well you sleep can pretty much determine the outcome of your entire camping experience,” said Scott Wilkinson, the director of communications and marketing at the Pacific Crest Trail Association.

Escaping to nature doesn’t have to mean sacrificing comfort or the pain-relieving support traditional mattresses offer. Today’s air mattresses, air pads, and sleeping pads are versatile and designed for a solid night’s sleep, whether you’re hiking in the backcountry or settling in for a backyard slumber party.

In order to make sound recommendations, each of our product picks has been thoroughly evaluated and approved based on criteria like product quality, company reputation, and good business practices. Our vetting process also ensures that you’ll only see recommendations for products and companies we stand behind.

Here is a breakdown of what we looked at when finding the best camping mattresses:

  • Made for camping: These products are all designed for the wear and tear of outdoor use. That means incorporating thicker fabrics, nonslip elements, and reinforced seams.
  • Customer reviews: We considered customer reviews to see how they perform in real life. While most of these mattresses are available on Amazon, we also considered reviews from websites that specialize in outdoor gear, like REI and Backcountry.
  • Company reputation and transparency: We recommend products from reputable brands that have good reputations and disclose materials and manufacturing processes.
  • Warranty and policy: Camping gear is durable, but a camping mattress won’t last you as long as the one you invest in for your bedroom. Most outdoor gear companies offer a 2- to 5-year warranty, and that could also vary with a third-party seller.
  • Expert recommendations: We got insights from experienced campers who also work full-time facilitating outdoor experiences for other people.

Pricing guide

Prices are based on twin- or single-size mattresses unless otherwise noted.

  • $ = under $100
  • $$ = $100–$200
  • $$$ = over $200

Best memory foam camping mattress

Better Habitat SleepReady Memory Foam Roll Out Mattress

  • Price: $
  • Mattress type: memory foam
  • Height: 3 inches
  • Firmness: plush
  • Who it’s best for: those looking for a durable, easy-to-carry option

Like all foam camping mattresses, this option is as simple as it gets: just unbag, unclip, and roll it out. The 3-inch thick memory foam is one of the thickest camping mattress options we could find.

Made with durability in mind, this camping mattress also has a waterproof cover and slip-resistant bottom. Reviewers like the convenient carry bag and say it’s thick enough to not feel minor bumps and indentations on the ground or whatever surface you place it on.

Pros

  • durable and simple to use
  • includes a waterproof cover and slip-resistant bottom
  • convenient carrying bag

Cons

  • some users reported a strong chemical smell after opening

Buy the Better Habitat SleepReady Memory Foam Roll Out Mattress online.

Best camping air mattress

SoundAsleep Camping Series Air Mattress

  • Price: $
  • Mattress type: air mattress
  • Height: 9 inches
  • Firmness: extra firm when fully inflated
  • Who it’s best for: those who prefer to be higher off the ground

An air mattress is the best bet to get high off the ground while camping, outside of a cot. “For those with physical challenges, sometimes being further off the ground is easier in terms of getting up,” says Asia Bradford, the founder of Black Girls Camp, a nonprofit devoted to increasing the number of Black women who love the outdoors and helping them learn to do so safely.

She prefers the firmness an air mattress can provide. Not only can it be easier to get in and out of bed, but a taller air mattress can also keep you warmer since you’re totally separated from the cold ground — unless you’re camping in especially cold weather and the mattress fills with air the same temperature as outside.

This option is specifically designed for camping, with extra thick material for durability and a portable, rechargeable pump. The internal air coils increase support and prevent air leakage, and reviewers say the queen size fits comfortably in the back of an SUV.

Pros

  • portable, rechargeable pump included for easy inflation and deflation
  • a taller mattress to keep you off of the ground
  • air coils increase support and prevent air leakage

Cons

  • some users experienced air leaks and slow deflation
  • requires outlet to charge pump

Buy the SoundAsleep Camping Series Air Mattress online.

Best camping mattress for couples

Exped MegaMat 10 Sleeping Pad, Duo

  • Price: $$$ (double)
  • Mattress type: self-inflating pad
  • Height: 3.9 inches
  • Firmness: adjustable with mini-pump
  • Who it’s best for: people sharing a sleeping space in cold temperatures

This is a self-inflating sleeping pad great for people sharing a sleeping space. Simply open the valve and the open-cell foam core expands in a few minutes. You can also top it off with additional air to customize the cushioning.

It’s designed to have level support and strong edges, so one person’s movement and sleeping style doesn’t affect the other person’s comfort. This pad also has a high R-value, which measures how well it insulates you from the cold. REI recommends an R-value of at least 5.5 for cold weather camping, and this pad has a value of 8.1, making it a great option for cold weather adventuring.

Keep in mind that this pad weighs in at nearly 10 pounds, so it might be best for car camping or staying at a campsite. It’s a bit heavy for backpacking.

Pros

  • great for cold weather adventures
  • simple to use and expands in minutes
  • good for co-sleeping

Cons

  • heavy at nearly 10 pounds
  • higher price point

Buy the Exped MegaMat 10 Sleeping Pad, Duo online.

Best camping mattress for backpacking

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Sleeping Pad

  • Price: $$
  • Mattress type: air pad
  • Height: 2.5 inches
  • Firmness: adjustable with pump
  • Who it’s best for: those looking for a light, easy-to-pack option

When embarking on a multi-day backpacking trip, every ounce counts, but that shouldn’t mean you have to sacrifice a good night’s sleep. The regular-size NeoAir UberLite is only 8.8 ounces and packs into a bag the size of a large water bottle.

Reviewers say the pad is thick enough to be comfortable, even for side sleepers who don’t want their hips digging into the ground. Not only is it light and compact, but the material is also quiet when you shift during sleep.

Elyse Rylander, the founder of OUT There Adventures, a nonprofit adventure education program created for queer youth, turns to her NeoAir when she backpacks around North America. She says it has held up for over 8 years.

This isn’t a self-inflating option. It comes with a pump sack to inflate, so it takes a little more work to get set up. Additionally, some reviewers say the thin material isn’t as durable and contributes to deflation throughout the night.

Pros

  • light and easy to pack
  • material is quiet when you shift during sleep

Cons

  • not a self-inflating option
  • some reviewers report the material isn’t durable

Buy the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Sleeping Pad online.

Most durable camping mattress

Therm-a-Rest Z Lite SOL Sleeping Pad

  • Price: $
  • Mattress type: foam pad
  • Height: 0.75 inches
  • Firmness: flat and thin closed-cell foam
  • Who it’s best for: those looking for an extremely durable option

Closed-cell pads are known for affordability and ability to withstand wear. This close-cell foam option is extremely durable and easy to use. It’s great for campers who are hard on their gear or don’t want to risk rupturing an air pad.

“The advantage to the flat, thin, closed-cell foam non-inflatable pads is that they’re bombproof,” Wilkinson says. “They’re not going to get a hole in them. They’ll last forever.” Additionally, he touts a foam pad’s versatility: You can throw it down on any surface and it will work.

The egg carton design in the Z Lite SOL was designed to promote comfort and help keep you warm by trapping air under your sleeping bag. The accordion-style design also makes it super simple to store and use.

This pad only has an R-value of 2.0, so while it’s great for warmer weather, it may not provide enough insulation in colder months. Also, closed-cell foam pads will be on the firmer side, and the average sleeper may not find them comfortable enough, Wilkinson says.

Pros

  • accordion-style design makes it simple to store and use
  • extremely durable and easy to use
  • ultralight

Cons

  • may not provide enough insulation in colder months
  • thinness may not provide enough comfort for some

Buy the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite SOL Sleeping Pad online.

Best self-inflating camping mattress

Exped MegaMat 10 Sleeping Pad, Single

  • Price: $$$
  • Mattress type: self-inflating pad
  • Height: 3.9 inches
  • Firmness: adjustable with mini-pump
  • Who it’s best for: solo sleepers looking for a cold weather option

This is the solo option of the MegaMat 10 Sleeping Pad, Duo, which we recommend for couples. Like that model, this MegaMat has a comfortable, level surface thanks to high-grade open cells and horizontal air channels.

You can also customize the inflation by topping off the mattress with the included mini pump after it self-inflates. In addition, the MegaMat has an R-value of 8.1, making it excellent for cold weather.

Rylander is a big fan of Exped pads, and the cushion is great for her hips when sleeping on her side.

“They’re the most comfortable for a reason,” she says. “But obviously you’re losing out on packability. But they’re fantastic for sure. And I’ve sometimes even opted to bring them on a backpacking trip just because I want to be comfortable.”

Pros

  • customizable firmness with mini pump
  • excellent for cold weather
  • reviewers found this to be super comfortable

Cons

  • may be too heavy for backpacking
  • expensive option

Buy the Exped MegaMat 10 Sleeping Pad, Single online.

Best budget camping mattress

Klymit Static V Sleeping Pad

  • Price: $
  • Mattress type: air pad
  • Height: 2.5 inches
  • Firmness: adjustable inflation
  • Who it’s best for: those looking for an inexpensive, lightweight option

This is a highly rated pad for great value. While it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles as some more expensive options, it’s compact and comfortable. It’s super lightweight — weighing in just over a pound when packed — and is designed to only take 10 to 15 breaths to fully inflate.

Some reviewers complain about air leaking out through the night, but many find it the perfect option for the price.

Pros

  • weighs just over a pound when packed
  • only takes 10 to 15 breaths to fully inflate
  • great value

Cons

  • may be too thin for some
  • some reviewers complain about air leaks

Buy the Klymit Static V Sleeping Pad online.

Best camping cot mattress

Coleman Camping Cot, Air Mattress, and Pump Combo

  • Price: $
  • Mattress type: cot with attached mattress
  • Height: 23.5 inches
  • Firmness: air coils for extra firmness
  • Who it’s best for: those looking for both a cot and mattress

This is a super convenient option that combines a cot and its mattress. Cots are excellent for campers who have a hard time getting up from the ground or use a wheelchair.

The air mattress on this cot is constructed with air coils for a level of firmness and support. It also has a reinforced valve so it doesn’t deflate. Reviewers love the cot’s ease of use and say it doesn’t sacrifice comfort.

Pros

  • reinforced valve to ensure it doesn’t deflate
  • good for campers who have a hard time getting up from the ground
  • air coils provide firmness and support

Cons

  • some reviewers report the materials are noisy
  • a risk of tipping

Buy the Coleman Camping Cot, Air Mattress, and Pump Combo online.

Best tri-fold mattress

Milliard Tri-Fold Mattress

  • Price: $$
  • Mattress type: tri-fold foam
  • Height: 4.5 inches
  • Firmness: medium-firm polyurethane foam
  • Who it’s best for: anyone looking for a comfortable night’s sleep that doesn’t need a compact mattress

This tri-fold mattress features 4 1/2 inches of medium-firm polyurethane foam and a 1 1/2 inch layer of soft memory foam that’s good for side, stomach, and back sleepers. It features a hypoallergenic bamboo cover that is removable and washable. Reviewers say that this is a highly comfortable sleeping experience.

This is a heavier option that isn’t ideal for backpacking but could be a good option for camping in a tent or cabin. It also is quite bulky when folded.

Pros

  • highly comfortable
  • hypoallergenic, washable bamboo cover
  • great option for houseguests

Cons

  • too bulky for backpacking

Buy the Milliard Tri Fold Mattress online.

Best roll-up mattress

iQIMES Memory Foam Camping Mattress

  • Price: $
  • Mattress type: memory foam
  • Height: 2.6 inches
  • Firmness: foam is soft, yet supportive
  • Who it’s best for: those looking for an easy-to-use roll-up option that offers the support of foam

This memory foam roll-up mattress features 1.6 inches of dense foam support and 1-inch memory foam for comfort on hard surfaces. It’s easy to roll up and the buckles make it even more compact.

The sheet is machine washable and the mattress has a nonslip bottom and features a storage pocket.

Pros

  • good for cold weather
  • no worrying about air leaks
  • layers of memory foam provide body support

Cons

  • some reviewers report that it’s bulkier than expected
  • too thin for some

Buy the iQIMES Memory Foam Camping Mattress online.

Best mattress for warmer weather

REI Co-op Kingdom Insulated Air Bed C

  • Price: $$
  • Mattress type: inflatable air
  • Height: 6 inches
  • Firmness: adjustable with pump
  • Who it’s best for: people looking to stay warm in colder temperatures

This air mattress from REI boasts a couple of handy features. From its hefty internal insulation — which can help users feel comfortable in temperatures down to 40°F — to the 6-inch thick pad, it’s a solid pick for outdoor adventures.

It has an R-value of 2.6, which means it probably won’t be the best option for super cold months, but it will perform quite well in the spring and summer. It comes with a manual air pump and a single valve for inflating and deflating, along with a handy stuff sack for packing up between hikes or trips.

Pros

  • good for cool weather
  • surface is quiet and soft to the touch
  • firmness is adjustable with a manual air pump

Cons

  • some users reported air leaks overnight

Buy the REI Co-op Kingdom Insulated Air Bed online.

PriceWhy we chose itHighlights
Better Habitat SleepReady Memory Foam Roll Out Mattress$durable; easy to carryfeatures thick foam
SoundAsleep Camping Series Air Mattress$firm comforttall design keeps you off the ground
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Sleeping Pad$$light; compacteasy to pack and carry
Therm-a-Rest Z Lite SOL Sleeping Pad$durableaffordable and long lasting
Exped MegaMat 10 Sleeping Pad, Single$$$comfortgood for co-sleeping in cold temps
Klymit Static V Sleeping Pad$affordablelight and easy to pack
Coleman Camping Cot, Air Mattress, and Pump Combo$features cot and mattresskeeps you off the ground
Milliard Tri Fold Mattress$$soft comforthypoallergenic cover
iQIMES Memory Foam Camping Mattress$supportive foamstorage pocket; easy roll-up
Exped MegaMat 10 Sleeping Pad, Duo$$$good for cold tempsquiet comfort for shared sleepers
REI Co-op Kingdom Insulated Air Bed$$best for warmer weathersoft touch surface

There are a few key things to keep in mind when shopping for a camping mattress.

Style of camping

Different camping mattresses fit different camping styles, so consider what type you’re doing, whether it’s car camping, tent camping, or backpacking. A memory foam option is great to fit in the back of an SUV, but it’ll be difficult to haul on a trail.

Mattress type

There are a few different types of camping mattress, and determining what’s best for you comes down to personal preference. “Know what you need, and then don’t skimp on that,” Bradford recommends. Here are some common options you’ll see while shopping:

  • Self-inflating pad: These have open-cell foam that expands when you release a valve. They have the cushiness of foam and some customizability to “top off” with air.
  • Foam pads: Usually made of closed-cell foam, these pads are denser and more durable than other types of camping mattresses.
  • Air pads: These require inflation with a pump, pump sack, or breath. They’re great for campers and backpackers who need lightweight gear.
  • Air mattresses: These require a heavier duty inflation pump, but get you off the ground and gives great insulation.

Mattress size and weight

Consider what it’ll be like to haul your mattress when it’s packed, as well as its footprint when set up. Pay attention to how much weight the mattress will add and how far you may have to carry it. A standard 25- or 30-inch width should give you enough space to sleep comfortably. Backpacking pads are often more narrow to preserve space.

R-value

This refers to how insulated the mattress is. The higher the R-value, the more suited the mattress is for cold conditions. For three season use, look for an R-value of least 3. For cold weather camping, go for a rating of 5.5 and above. You can combine pads to increase R-value. For example, a self-inflating mattress on top of a closed-cell pad will give you more insulation.

Durability

Camping mattresses are generally durable by design. When shopping for a mattress, check out the Denier ratings, which quantify its durability — mattresses with higher ratings offer better tear resistance. These ratings can usually be found in product descriptions, so keep an eye out for them while shopping.

Company repair policies

Bradford recommends finding gear from companies with replacement or repair policies. These products may have a higher price point, but she said it’s worth it in the long run.

Most often, your bedding with a camping mattress will be a sleeping bag. A camping sleep system includes the pad, mattress, and your own clothing. All three of these elements work in tandem to keep you warm and comfortable.

If you’re placing the mattress directly on the ground, inspect the area first to make sure there are no sharp rocks that can damage the sleeping pad.

After use, brush off the mattress before repacking, since a small rock stuck to the surface could easily puncture it when rolled up. As for cleaning, warm water, and a sponge — and mild detergent for more difficult spots — will get the job done.

What is the most comfortable mattress for tent camping?

If you’re looking to prioritize comfort, look for a thicker mattress that will support your body and protect you from the hard ground while camping.

Memory foam is likely a superior choice over air mattresses since the latter can sometimes deflate throughout the night.

Is an air mattress or memory foam mattress better for camping?

It depends on what you’re looking for. An air mattress is typically lighter and more compact. They may also be ideal for backpacking experiences.

Memory foam mattresses are oftentimes more comfortable, but also much bulkier and heavier.

How much should I spend on a camping mattress?

Luckily, camping mattresses come at all different price points. When shopping, you should check reviews for overall durability so you won’t have to replace your mattress time and time again.

What is the difference between a pad and a mattress?

Sleeping pads are typically thinner and more compact in size, while mattresses are larger and thicker. Mattresses are often inflatable for adjustable firmness. The two can be paired for ultimate comfort.

There are many different types of camping mattresses available, depending on your camping style and weight considerations.

Self-inflating and memory foam options will offer cushion and comfort, but they’re often heavier. Air mattresses get you off the ground and can be good for people with limited mobility, while air pads compress well and are excellent for backpackers.

Choose the system that’s best for your sleeping style so you can power up and appreciate the great outdoors.


Sara Wilson is a freelance journalist interested in health policy, wellness, and politics. Her work has appeared in Morning Consult, MarketWatch, Sojourners, and others. She is a graduate of the University of Alabama and Northwestern University. She loves historical fiction, long trips to a museum, and chatting with her 8-year-old cat Ethel. Follow her on Twitter.